Willow Movie Poster Image


Magic-filled fantasy adventure with a few battle scenes.
Parents recommend
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Release Year: 1988
  • Running Time: 126 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

The movie intends to entertain, not educate, but kids will see old-fashioned village life plus a population of little people that may lead to interesting questions and conversations.

Positive messages

The movie is filled with positive messages about love, family, the power of good over evil, sacrifice for the greater good, and the dangers of judging a book by its cover. Willow's journey also underscores the value of perseverance, the struggle for good, and doing the right thing in the face of great odds.

Positive role models

Willow demonstrates courage, integrity, perseverance, and teamwork.

Violence & scariness

Sword fighting, hand-to-hand combat, punching, magical battles. One scene shows innocent villagers -- including children -- running in fear from soldiers. A wildebeest attacks the midwife who saved the princess baby, and it's assumed she dies, but nothing is shown. In the final battle a troll turns into a bloody, grotesque, two-headed monster. Even in intense moments, there is some humor that lightens the drama.

Sexy stuff

Some romantic kissing. One scene hints that Madmartigan was involved with another man's wife. A love potion makes Madmartigan spout wildly romantic phrases at a beautiful woman.


Some insults, especially "peck," which refers to Willow's species of little people. Once: "jackass."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A pub scene shows folks drinking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Willow is a wonderful fantasy adventure with lots of intense scenes of battle and conflict, which are often lightened with humor. Expect an evil queen who yells and threatens to kill a baby, plus some scary wildebeasts and soldiers who storm a village of innocents -- including kids -- but leave before anyone is seriously hurt. Some battles result in apparent deaths with a little blood, but nothing is lingered on or explicit. A couple monsters are pretty creepy and put beloved characters in peril. There is also some romantic kissing and a hint of infidelity.

What's the story?

WILLOW (Warwick Davis) is a Nelwyn, a dwarf-like person, who is a farmer and aspiring sorcerer. His children find a baby, a special princess who is the chosen one to bring down the reign of terror by the magical evil queen. The Nelwyn community is frightened by this baby, a Daikini or big person, and commands Willow to return the baby to its kind. The first Nelwyn met is a hooligan named Madmartigan (Val Kilmer). Willow has bonded with the baby and does not trust Madmartigan. These two pair up to save the baby, meeting forest fairies and a kind sorceress along the way. Madmartigan receives a dose of fairy powder, causing him to fall in love with Sorsha, daughter to the evil queen. The powder wears off, but the affection doesn't. In the end, good triumphs over evil; Willow is a hero; and the baby princess is left in the loving arms of Sorsha and Madmartigan.

Is it any good?


For today's Harry Potter generation, a viewing of this movie will surely be of interest. There's no more violence in this film than a child sees in Harry Potter or Star Wars -- in fact, there's probably less. Directed by Ron Howard and written by George Lucas, it's a great film for kids interested in fantasy.

The adventure is easy to follow and full of school-age humor, and two forest fairies provide comedy with their slapstick, strange voices, and snappy one-liners. Lucas' fantasy has interesting-looking characters and villages, gothic castles, and, most of all, magic. There are no big surprises; we know who's good and who's evil. Though parents may want to fast-forward through the fight scenes, Willow is an excellent choice to give young kids a taste of fantasy.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the characters' choices in Willow . Why did the queen want to kill the baby princess? Why was Willow reluctant to take the baby into his home? Why did Madmartigan help Willow and the baby? What do these choices say about the movie's messages?

  • Talk about the humor in this movie. How do jokes and silly pratfalls lessen the intensity of violence or peril?

  • What parts of the movie are created by actors, and what parts are created by computer effects? How can you tell?

  • How do the characters in Willow demonstrate perseverance and teamwork? What about courage and integrity? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 20, 1988
DVD/Streaming release date:November 27, 2001
Cast:Joanne Whalley, Val Kilmer, Warwick Davis
Director:Ron Howard
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Misfits and underdogs
Character strengths:Courage, Integrity, Perseverance, Teamwork
Run time:126 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:action violence

This review of Willow was written by

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Teen, 17 years old Written byjohnthemon February 25, 2011

Not for 8 year olds, common sense media is inconsistent

They gave Empire Strikes Back an 11+ but this one an 8+? This is way darker/scarier/more violent/more sexual than Empire. Saw this at age 12 and it still was pretty freaky. Good movie, but dayum, not for an 8 year old. The evil queen wants to SACRIFICE A BABY ON AN ALTAR! Lots of people die, in violent ways, and many scary scenes. That said, very good movie, just not for little kids
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Great role models
Adult Written bykillda April 9, 2008

A good movie

It was a good movie
Kid, 10 years old January 30, 2011

a family movie has some violence and language ages 10 and up

this 1988 family classic has some language and violence plus safety is sometimes a issue but there is good role models thats why the whole family and schools should watch this movie.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Safety and privacy concerns